Create a Meaningful Giving Plan

As the new year unfolds, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past and contemplating ways to make a positive impact in the future. Creating a giving plan can be a powerful and fulfilling way to contribute to the greater good. 

Whether you’re a first-time donor or want to refresh your charitable giving strategy this year, this guide can help you design a plan that aligns with your values and resources and makes a lasting impact on the causes you care about. 

Reflect on Your Values 

Before diving into the details of your giving plan, take some time for introspection. Has anything happened in your community – or worldwide – that has particularly touched or concerned you? Consider the causes that resonate with you and align with your personal values. Whether it’s education, human rights, environmental conservation, or the arts, identifying your priorities is an important first step to guide your philanthropic efforts. You can get started by checking out the Council’s directory of reviewed nonprofits, which allows you to narrow your search by category. 

Also consider whether you prefer to concentrate your giving on one organization or give to multiple organizations within the year. 

Do Your Research 

To ensure your contributions make a genuine impact, look for nonprofits with a proven track record of transparency and accountability. Check out our list of Meets Standards® nonprofits who have put in the work to demonstrate accountability to funders and donors. Make sure to also pay attention to the organization’s mission, goals, and tangible impact of their programs. The Council’s list of questions to ask before giving can guide your research, too. 

A trustworthy nonprofit will be open about its operations, use donations efficiently, and clearly communicate how your support as a donor contributes to positive change. These and other factors are included in the Council’s Accountability Standards®. By conducting thorough research, you can confidently invest in organizations that share your commitment to making a difference in the world. 

Create Your Giving Calendar 

Review your financial situation and allocate the amount of money that makes sense for your budget. Establish clear and achievable giving goals for the year. Setting specific, measurable, and time-bound goals will help you stay focused and track your progress throughout the year. 

Consider giving on a monthly or quarterly basis this year. While most donors give in the last quarter of the year, nonprofits benefit most when they can maintain a steady cash flow year-round, allowing them to effectively plan their budgets and work towards their missions.  

Want to keep some flexibility in your budget in case a sudden need arises in your community or your personal finances change? Categorize your budget into proactive giving, reactive giving, and emergency giving. This structured approach ensures a well-balanced and thoughtful distribution of your charitable contributions over time. 

Explore Matching Programs and Volunteer Opportunities 

Many employers offer programs that match charitable donations made by their employees. Check if your company provides such opportunities, as it can effectively double the impact of your contributions.  

Consider sharing your time and skills also. Some companies even provide a day or two of paid time during which employees can engage in community service. Looking for an opportunity to share your expertise long-term? Consider joining an organization’s board of directors. Like monetary donations, volunteering your time and talents help nonprofits do more for our communities. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with other community members who share your values.  

Stay Informed and Engaged 

Stay informed about the progress of the organizations you support and remain engaged with the issues they address. Regularly review their updates, attend events, and participate in discussions to deepen your understanding. And don’t forget to let friends and colleagues know about all the great work the organization is doing – word of mouth is a powerful multiplier!  

With a bit of research and planning, you can feel confident your charitable giving will fit your budget and make an impact this year. As you embark on your philanthropic journey, remember that whether you give your time, talent, or treasure to the causes close to your heart, your contributions are so appreciated!  

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Our mission is building donor and nonprofit relationships for strong, vibrant and just communities. We envision healthy communities for all, benefiting from effective and trustworthy nonprofits that are supported by a well-informed public’s generosity.

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